Fangirl The Manga Volume 1 Review – Fanfictions and College Don’t Mix

    Title: Fangirl The Manga Volume 1
    Author: Rainbow Rowell, Sam Maggs
    Release Date: Slice of Life, Drama
    Publisher: VIZ Media

Viewing another person’s semi-normal life can encompass some of the best moments of the slice-of-life genre. As I grow up, the stories that were once set in high school don’t grab my interest as much these days, and I am continually looking for stories about college or adult life, which is something that Fangirl volume one tackle wonderfully.

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Fangirl follows Cath, a college freshman with more of an affinity for writing than partying. Though starting college means leaving her father and alcohol-abusing sister behind, she still has two people who will always be there for her, Simon Snow and Baz, the two protagonists of an incredibly popular book series.

Cath just happens to be one of the most popular Simon Snow fanfiction authors, something that doesn’t exactly make her popular in college. Fanfiction is the least of Cath’s worries; however: an unfriendly roommate, classes, and the fear of being alone in an unfamiliar place are just a few of the struggles she must deal with.

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An interesting thing about Fangirl is that many would probably wince at it being called a manga. The series is based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Rainbow Rowell, adapted into manga form by Sam Maggs and Gabi Nam. Though this isn’t Japanese, it would be unfair to call it a manga as all inspirations are clearly there. I’m not one to gatekeep the genre.

As someone who was a college freshman just a few years ago, Fangirl was incredibly relatable to me. College can be a very frightening place, especially for those that happen to be more introverted. Almost all of the struggles Cath faced in this first volumes were ones I dealt with myself, which made reading Fangirl volume one 200 pages of me going, “Yup, I know just how you feel, girl.”

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Seeing as how I haven’t read the original novel, I’m not sure whether or not I should credit the fantastic writing in Fangirl volume one to Rowell or Maggs, so I’ll just credit both of them. The world and characters set up in the first volume feel so real and relatable that it at times, it was as if I was reading a true-life story with some added flair for dramatic effect.

Volume one of Fangirl does a great job of building tension. It doesn’t tell readers everything about its characters as they’re introduced. Instead, it drip-feeds us information about them over time. I have tons of questions after the first volume that are being set up for significant payoffs in future volumes.

While it’s pretty evident that Fangirl is drawn by a western artist trying to recreate Japanese manga’s tone, it doesn’t look bad. In fact, I enjoy the presentation, with characters that look as if they are inspired by manga, but clearly western. It gives Fangirl a design that makes it stick out from other manga series, but it doesn’t dip into anything too unique or different.

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Fans of slice-of-life series that may wish for more than the usual middle/high school tales are in for a treat with Fangirl volume one. Though its art style doesn’t really stick out in any way, it blends western and eastern art in a generally visually appealing way. Its story and characters are, so far, incredibly relatable and engaging, hooking me in for more. Hopefully, we can get a second volume of the manga soon because, if not, I may be picking up the full novel to find out what happens to Cath and company.

A-

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Jake Yoder

Lover of all things gaming, anime, film and theatre. Shonen anime/manga enthusiast.